Natasha Khan has never been one for the mundane. Channeling the spirit of Kate Bush, Björk and to an extent, PJ Harvey, her music treats the art of storytelling as nothing less than a spiritual, sacred endeavour. Her breakthrough LP, 2012’s The Haunted Man, contained a kaleidoscope of otherworldly tales, fables and dreams, but here on The Bride we find Khan focused on one grand ethereal narrative.
Singing from the perspective of a bride jilted by fate, what begins as the anticipation of marital bliss on opener “I Do”, quickly turns sour during the dark synth pulse of “In God’s House”, when she foresees the death of her fiancé in a fiery car accident on the way to the altar. Listen carefully and you can hear the screeching tires and subsequent crashing sound just before the melancholy “Honeymooning Alone” kicks in. “But I’m feeling something’s wrong/My baby’s hand on the wheel/What’s this I see?/Fire”. The premonition sounds a bit ridiculous on paper, but translates into something with a real gravitas in practice – Khan’s tone, lyrics and deeply textured songcraft mean that you can’t help but to share in the tragedy of it all. “I will never forgive the angels,” she laments soon afterwards.
According to Khan, the concept of The Bride was borne out of watching old Hitchcock and Polanski movies, where she studied the intricacies of cinematic scriptwriting – something that is evident across all of the twelve songs on the album – each one a self-contained yet connected stage of the narrative. Although the main protagonist, the bride, is not actually Khan, there are obviously many points where the story reflects a lot of her persona. “It’s weird, I can’t really separate her from myself; I’ve experienced those feelings in real life… it’s my own story of love, loss and grief.”
Musically, The Bride holds dear to Khan’s default electronica, sometimes fast and angry (“Sunday Love”) but mostly elegiac, slow and intense (“Close Encounters”, “I Know”). The album finishes with a flourish of optimism with the gorgeous “I Will Love Again”, and “In Your Bed” – powerful songs to top off a powerful album, that is without doubt the highpoint of Khan’s career so far.
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